Miami Palmetto High School senior Madison Abella has traveled twice to the Dominican Republic to provide water and sanitation to remote villages.
On one of the Blue Mission trips, she helped build 16 latrines for 46 families in a small town.
“We spread them out along the community for different families to have closer ones to access,” she says.
On the other trip, the Blue Mission workers built an aqueduct for 300 families.
“We basically got a tank and we started connecting tubes throughout the community,” she says. “It took seven days to get all the tubes together.”
The teens used pickaxes and shovels to bury the tubes. The water tank was able to hold 10,000 gallons so if there is a drought, the village still has access to water.
The village previously had a tank but it had stopped working.
“They haven’t had any access to running water for eight years,” she says. “They were so eager to help us with everything they could.”
The second to last day was Water Day when the water was turned on.
“They were crying. They were so happy!” she says. “It was so impactful to me that we did that for them.”
Everyone who goes on the mission trips takes extra clothes and supplies to donate to the villagers.
“We donate everything from shoes to clothes, flashlights and mosquito nets,” Abella says.
“Anything we have.”
The students were affected by the impact that providing water made on the village families. They also realized that the material things they thought were necessary for happiness, were not necessary.
Abella learned about the Blue Mission trips from friends. She attended sessions for about seven months before going on her first trip.
After that, she became an ambassador and puts on informational sessions at the Blue Missions headquarters.
“I organize information sessions about different global issues,” she says.
As ambassador, she seeks out organizations dealing with global issues to speak to Blue Mission groups.
“You inform people about issues and how they can get involved and things like that,” she says.
One of the recent sessions she worked on was about sustainable cities. One about a year ago dealt with ocean life.
Ocean life is of interest to her because she spent a lot of time on boats growing up.
Now she goes out about once a month and participates in coral restoration dives with the Coral Restoration Foundation. She goes to a coral reef nursery where they are growing 15-thousand coral trees.
“We go to another reef and plant the coral. Essentially to restore the reef,” she says. “Over the last 50 years about 50 percent has been washed away.”
At Palmetto, she’s the Editor-in-Chief of the yearbook. She works on choosing the theme of the book, the layout and the design elements. She’s a leader for her class and helps set the example for other students.
She’s also one of the four Advertising Chairs for the Student Council.
“We make flyers for everything and videos for different things,” she says.
She’s been on the varsity soccer team since freshman year. She used to play club soccer as well but took this year off to focus on college applications and school.
This past summer she attended a month-long program for financial engineering at Baruch College and loved it.
She plans to major in finance and applied mathematics in college. She has been accepted into the Honors College and Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld